Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

Giving thanks. Sometimes it’s hard to do when the holiday set aside for thanks-giving involves in-laws, slushy weather, disastrous kitchens, and crazy kids, not to mention those deeper extended family issues that materialize only on these blessed events.

But nonetheless, we are to do so. To give thanks, that is. And if you’re like me, continual thanksgiving conjures an image of this mama who smiles with a knowing head shake at the eternal stickiness on the doorknobs. A risen-early woman walking amongst the fallen leaves in grateful worship to her Creator. Perfectly fine with the dirty dishes.

These can be true. But they’re not usually true for me, if I’m honest. When I’m in the liturgical rhythm of laundry, laundry, laundry, my natural instinct is not to lift my arms in praise. I wish it was.

You know the only way I’m able to change my attitude from grumbling to grateful when I just don’t feel like it?

I just choose to say thanks. I don’t wait for my emotions to change.

I change Finn’s dirty diaper, I scrunch my nose, and I murmur without a smile on my face, “Thank you God for this little body You’ve entrusted me with.”

I open my inbox to untold unread emails and say, “Lord, thanks for this technology and these people in my life and this laptop.” I’m still bummed about all the email I need to process.

I open the minivan door and witness the horror that is the cacophony of clutter, and I say, “God, thanks for these little people that are home with me.”

And slowly, slowly, something miraculous happens. My heart changes. It really, really does. It’s usually not unicorns and sparkles outwardly, but it is prettier on the inside.

I’m still not in love with the poop or the what-is-that-on-the-floorboard?, but I’m a little more in love with the Giver of Life. I’m more aware of the unbelievable gifts soaked in my life. I’m humbled.

And so it is the same on Thanksgiving Day. There’s people and noises and casseroles and chaos, and often a sweet potatoed floor. And those perpetrators are reasons for thanks—they’re gifts from God.

This season, don’t wait for your feelings to flourish. Say thanks anyway, and see what happens.

In what parts of your life do you have to consciously choose to say thanks?

by Tsh Oxenreider, Simple Mom

  • Sonelina Pal

    Very nice. I experience the same feelings along the same kind of experiences. Saying thanks does open up my heart and puts a smile on my face, too

  • Anonymous

    I really needed this today! Thanks you!

  • melissa

    love this. i needed it this morning. mondays are especially hard for this working mama that wants to be at home with my children. today i will say thank you for a job that provides for my family. thank you for two sweet babies and one on the way to mama. thank you for a precious husband working hard towards his degree and ministry.

    great post tsh.

  • Angie

    Thank YOU for this encouragement!

    I constantly have to say thanks in my marriage…tough season…unable to be intimate (or start a family), with my in-laws – for the challenges, at school when I’m needed by 20 1st graders, and when my house is a wreck!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Mandy

    Thanks for this today~ I am in this exact place where I am constantly reminding myself of the gifts wrapped in the chaos, and God is changing my heart to be able to see it naturally… I am so blessed!

  • http://facebook barbra

    i so needed this today. thank you for sharing your heart.
    this morning as i was begging at the Throne( my 91 yr old mama has dementia, and my husband is 7 mos without work), i realized that i had not praised Him. as i started singing “blessed be the name of the Lord”(desert song), His peace quietly enveloped me; and i knew that i Will Trust Him!!

  • Ellen

    What a wonderful reminder!

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    I was actually thinking on this very topic this morning. We can easily start to grip and complain about the things in life that are actually blessings… huge blessings at that. Thank you for this reminder and for speaking your heart to all of us. God bless you!

  • Lisa W

    What a great reminder (and practical way to deal with it)! Today has already been a day where my plans were changed and I got thrown into a tizzy and had someone, through a simple facebook comment, remind me that I AM blessed and have so much to be thankful for! I think I need to practice this at work more. As an elementary music teacher in a tough school, I run into lots of frustrating situations and it has been dragging me down lately. I am determined to come back after Thanksgiving with a new attitude – not “unicorns and sparkles outwardly” but with a different perspective on the blessings of having this job!

  • Becca

    Thank you for this reminder that we should be grateful in all things. I know it’s easy to look at a task, and fail to see the person or thing behind the task. I love how you said thank you as you changed a diaper. That’s not at all a pleasant experience, but the baby that brings that task is a great joy! I’m going to take this perspective with me today. Many thanks to you, and may you have a peaceful Thanksgiving!

  • Nancy

    “I’m a little more in love with the Giver of life.” This is what the gift of thanks-giving gives me.

  • P

    My husband had an affair. He became a totally broken man as a result. Now he seeks God more than his next breath, I think. It has been an amazing transformation to witness. He has become the husband I always prayed for, and a daddy that is so very involved in his children’s lives. I should be thankful. I am mostly. It sounds like the good outweighed the bad, and it did. Some days I still cry, though, and wonder why. I’m praying for a heart that can find peace in the thankfulness.

  • ToniaBooker

    I so needed this today! Great honest, loving words.
    Thankful for this today!

  • Kristi

    Thank you for that post! I’ve been working to develop thankfulness in my heart too. I love when God reinforces my own “life lessons” through other people’s words!!

  • Cathy (graceirl)

    Love this! I’ve found myself in many of these similar situations as of late- cleaning up after the little ones, fighting the baby’s waggling arms to wipe her runny nose, and dealing with the fussiness of my two young ones while they’re recovering from their colds. It doesn’t feel natural to say thanks in the midst of the “mess of life.” However, I hope that by choosing to say thanks anyway with each difficulty or nuisance that comes up, it’ll become easier. I won’t have to convince my heart what my head knows it should do. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one that feels the same way with the everyday things of life. I especially love the line, “Thank you God for this little body You’ve entrusted me with.” Thanks again for this post. I was praying for greater patience and gratitude today. I feel this, in part, answers that prayer.

  • Seriously Sassy Mama

    I always say Thank you. There is no reason not to :)

  • Colleen

    Wonderful post – and SO true. It is funny how our attitude is key in so much. It is a choice that we can make. Great reminder. Thanks for yet another dead-on reminder.

  • Betty Draper

    Great reminder to be thankful for what God has place in our life, even the “poop”. Thankfulness is not a feeling it’s an act of the will and we are so blessed when we exercise our God given will and He is glorifly. I am sharing this with my fb friends..passing on the encouagment.

    • Tsh @ Simple Mom

      Cute name you have there. ;)

  • Mrs H

    Giving thanks with a grateful heart … even though my husband might be spending his Christmas with the Navy instead of with me. But I thank God he is my faithful, precious husband, he is still safe, and that no matter where we are, the Birthday Boy will be there with us both!

  • Anonymous

    Love this idea of focus on the bigger picture and the important things, instead of getting caught up in the day to day tribulations.

  • Kari

    AMEN and AMEN…how many times can I echo this heart-post?!! So true, learning as well the “hard eucharisteo” ~ the Giving of Thanks when it’s not easy and everything is falling apart and my feelings are NOT prone to thanksgiving. Practicing Thanks-Living (as Ann Voskamp says) by FAITH not by sight or feelings. Thank you for sharing, passing this along!! :)
    And I pray you have a Blessed ThanksGiving!! :)

  • Emily

    Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder.

  • deborah

    So true! I have read things like this before and I always appreciate the idea so much. We have a choice. I can complain about cleaning the bathroom or be glad for indoor plumbing. I can grumble about folding laundry or be glad for clothes to wear. The list is endless. Not that I never complain. :) But there is always something to be thankful for! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Renee Swope

    Thank you Tsh for being so real and for helping me see the never-ending deadlines, details and delays (as well as poopy diapers) through a lens of thanks today. My heart needed this!

  • Carrie

    I do the exact same thing! When I encounter tons of clutter on the living room floor, I say “Thank you that I am surrounded by all these wonderful people and LIFE.” and when I clean up the kitchen for the 6th time in a day, I say “Thank you that I have plenty of good food for my family!”

    I’m still working on being thankful while cleaning my husband’s bathroom. I AM thankful for him, but nobody’s perfect ;)

  • Rebecca

    Thanks. It reminds me of when I was still breastfeeding my daughter who is now 2 1/2 and very sleep deprived. I was still very thankful for her. I am even thankful for her when she repeatedly pees on the carpet because then I look at the big picture and am very thankful it is not poop.

  • Sharon

    I have had a terrible attitude lately. If I had to boil it down to one thing, I guess it’s that I feel like my work load is too much. I feel like I am expected to do more than I should have to do. But, I try to focus on the things I have to be thankful for, even if I don’t always love what’s on my plate. I thank God for 5 things each night (each one is specific to the events of that day). I am thankful to be able to stay at home with my toddler. I’m thankful that my husband has a stable job and is responsible. I am thankful that we are all healthy. I am thankful that my Mom comes over on a regular basis to give me a break. I can so relate to Rebecca’s comment above. I am so thankful that I’m no longer nursing. That sleep deprivation can really do a number on you. And your attitude.

  • Joyce

    Thank you for this post. I am going to try this!

  • Archer

    Love this. I’m still reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts, and I have noticed a HUGE difference in my life when I give thanks despite the emotions I feel. It totally changes my heart.

  • Kelly @ Ahimsa Mama

    I started trying to do this a few years ago, and I truly to believe it becomes a habit of mind. It doesn’t mean that I don’t notice the things that I don’t like (stuff on the car floor is a biggie for me!) but it helps me to not get wrapped up in it. Most of the time.

  • Shilo

    Well said, Tsh!

  • Susan

    Mom always said that when you smile you can trick yourself into feeling happier. I like guess you’re right, the same concept can be applied to thankfulness.

  • Kate S.

    In a rare moment of kismet, this post really resonated with me today. I read it just before heading out for a morning walk to the post office. Along the way, walking my four very excitable Border Collies down a busy neighborhood street, I managed to drop my Netflix DVD without noticing. I made it all the way to the post office, only to lift my hand and find it empty! It was extremely surreal–how could I not know I had dropped it?! So, I had to backtrack my steps (about a mile) . . . did I mention I was walking with four dogs? Yikes.

    I couldn’t find the DVD, despite going halfway back and returning once again to the post office (I thought I was certain I had had it in my hand at a certain point, when I waved to a neighbor). Finally, I gave up and started walking home, wondering how much that lost DVD (which we hadn’t even liked) was going to cost to purchase. But, by a stroke of luck, I happened to see an old man stoop to pick something up off the sidewalk about a block ahead of me and only about three blocks from my house. When it flashed red in the light, I knew he’d found the lost DVD! So, despite all the frustration it turned out well and, as I walked to the post office for the third time this morning, I thought, ‘well, at least I got a decent workout out of this!’

    Just as I arrived home, I let the dogs into the house and was stopped by my elderly neighbor who’s very lonely and likes to chat. Unattended, my monstrous dog decided to raid the kitchen trashcan. By the time I went inside, half of my kitchen floor was thoroughly covered in shredded, sticky garbage. This has been an ongoing problem with one particular dog and I normally would have been furious, but I somehow kept my cool and just shook my head at her. I spent an hour cleaning up the mess, sweeping, mopping and sanitizing. It makes the third time in four days I’ve had to mop the kitchen floor and I should have been frustrated, but instead I stepped back and thought, ‘wow, my floors have probably never been so clean before: )’

    I might have said I was having a bad day when my husband called at lunchtime, instead I said it had been “eventful,” with a laugh. Thank you for reminding me to be thankful today; clearly, I needed it.

  • Beth Williams

    We need to be thankful daily–for everything slow cars, jobs, family even in-laws and parents.

    I have a thankful journal that I write in daily. I started with a large basic journal of 246 items–each day I write what I’m thankful for that day. It makes me realize what I have and forget what I don’t!

  • Erin

    This was beautifully written, a gentle reminder. Thanks!


    This is something we all probably struggle with. It’s always hard to start being thankful, but once you start forcing yourself to say “Thank you” for all the things you have, it does get easier and you truly do start to feel grateful for all you have.

  • Claresa

    I have to consciously say thanks when that alarm goes off in the morning before work. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and I’d rather be sleeping in. So it takes me a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of a new morning. My heart completely changes when I say “thank You” and spend some time in the Word before I really get moving.

  • brooke

    Thank you. I was just encouraging my 12yo that life is a marathon. And then I got home to see the laundry, picking up, cleaning, organizing, meal planning, shopping, holiday weekend nearly here, school to do, arguing kids, zero plans yet for Christmas (which I so enjoy planning and doing), and promptly forgot that this is my marathon.

    One thankful step at a time. First of all, I’m thankful my husband made dinner tonight!

  • Tiffany

    I totally agree, I wrote about a similar experience over on The Creative Mama, it must be the season!

  • Laura

    Great post – a reminder that giving thanks is a choice:).

  • Steph @ MomKaboodle

    oh boy, did you bless me with these words today! (and I can totally relate!)
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  • http://facebook Linda

    Thank you for the wonderful gifts I have been given. Being able to endure my blessings has taught me that faith, trust, hope and love are really what it’s all about…

  • Gosia

    This is good. Get beyond the bloomin’ laundry, women!!!

  • Christa@thecookingblock

    Thank you. Just last night I was nudged internally to focus on the positive qualities of my family, friends and “general public”. I think this will help reinforce focusing on the positive. Rather than focusing in on the negative.

    Thank you…

  • Nicole

    Being grateful for little problems like these help build our gratitude “muscles” for when bigger, scarier problems come along, because they will. Life will life you; it’s satisfying when we can take a moment to appreciate the bountiful times.

    Thank you for your beautiful words.

  • Linda Scoggins

    I too have found that giving thanks helps me to appreciate the blessings I have. The things and people I sometimes don’t at first think of as blessings.

  • Janet Olson

    I have been working my way through One Thousand gifts, and even started writing down those small things I am thankful for. It is always great to here how others are thankful… I never would have looked past the poop to the smile child wearing the diaper. It is difficult on days like today, when the child is mad because he is sick, and husband is reclusive because he is sick to be thankful for the fact that I have them in my life.

    It is amazing how God can change our hearts when remember to thank HIM for everything we have (even when what we have doesn’t seem like that much).

    I lost my job just before Christmas last year, and this year has been a struggle, a wonderful struggle, but one none the less. I am and have been thankful that i get to be home with my son… but the fact that it was a decision that I did not make, but was made for me makes it bitter sweet. I am thankful for my life regardless of whether it has turned out the way I thought it would, the screaming child will laugh in a few minutes, and make it all worth it.

  • Dana At Cooking At Cafe D

    As a new first time wife…in my 40s, now with a blended family – other new challenges sometimes I need to get a little perspective. Thanks Tsh, this helped. I am blessed and I know it. But, sometimes, yeah, the words done always roll off the tongue…or the heart.

  • Amy

    Now this helps me refocus my perspective. I have somewhat difficult in-laws and yet, even though they can make me crazy, they also are a gift in some ways. And they are my husband’s family and I am so grateful for that good gift as well. When I remember this, some of the moments that make me want to tear my hair out aren’t quite so awful.

  • kalynbrooke

    I have to constantly remind myself to be thankful in the little things. I want to go straight the big ones, when God has said, make do with what you have right now.

  • Susan Freeman

    I have to remind myself to be thankful for what i have when I see others have so much more, however…I always find the ones I think have so much more lack something also.

    I make an effort to Thank the Lord each day, even if it is something small, it all adds up.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  • Living the Balanced Life

    I have 4 young adult children, and right now a few of their lives are a little challenging. I am choosing to look past the challenges and be thankful for THEM. And praying for grace and mercy, from me and from God! :)
    My special season of Thanksgiving

  • Diane

    I’ve been working really hard at this lately. My 3 1/2 yr old twins have entered the fighting and tattling stage. When I hear “Moooooommmmmmm, she’s _______ me!” for the 10th time in an hour I reach deep into my heart and say “Thank you God for these two precious gifts, I would not want to live my life without them!” In my really frustrated moments I remind myself how much I prayed for them before I got pregnant and then I tell them each they are an answer to prayer. Often that changes not just my mood but theirs as well.

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  • Renee

    Through the lens of postpartum depression, it’s hard to see anything to be thankful for. I’m slowly learning, and ‘One Thousand Gifts’ has been instrumental.